OT and PT put the FUN in FUNCTIONAL!

October 06, 2021


October is P.T. Month, and we have cause to celebrate the many children who receive physical therapy here at Crossroads and our wonderful Physical Therapist, Sami Carlo. Students with PT work on a range of activities here, to build strength, skills, and endurance. Sami makes student activities fun and engaging, and children make great progress.

In honor of PT Month, Sami has put together some tips on proper sitting posture for children and adults. Click to view and download!



5.11.2021 Catch the Spirit (and the ball) in Physical Therapy!

Playing catch takes some spirit! The spirit of enthusiasm and focus, and of working together with your team.

Here, Ms. Sami is works with D on throwing and catching. These pics show his great focus on her, his team mate, and on the ball, as he must harness that focus in order to aim to her, and to catch what she throws to him.

You can also see that there are several other items set up and ready to go. Most students, like D, have several goals that are addressed within a session. She is not wasting even a second of D’s in setting up while he’s with her, but instead has all of her activities prepped for ease of transition and flow.


April is Occupational Therapy Month, and in recognition of this, our Occupational Therapy Team has come up with a month of cool activities for the kids to do at home with their families. These will be shared on our Facebook page too, one each of the first 4 Fridays of April, with an explanation for each activity.

Here they are right now for you if you are someone who likes to plan ahead. Occupational-Therapy-Month-21-Activities-Occupational Therapy Month, ’21, Activities

We’re fortunate to have wonderful therapists in our OT department and thankful for all they do to help their students.



3.21.21 Building Balance and Navigation Skills With Obstacle Course Activities

Physical Therapist, Ms. Sami, uses her creativity and connection to her students to envision what will inspire them the most. That’s why, when warmer weather comes along, you might find her outdoors, setting up a wildly appealing course of challenges for D, a school-age student who loves to be outside.

On this particular day, D walks along a balance beam, weaves between colorful cones, and walks along a path of half-ball-shaped stepping stones, which squish down under his weight and require him to use core balance. When he finishes these tasks, he chooses a ball to bounce, allowing Sami to collect the data she needs to evaluate D’s progress.

The care and energy that Sami has put into making this activity both challenging and fun for D is not unusual for her. Indeed she seems to enjoy the activities she designs for her pupils almost as much as they do.

It’s wonderful to see D’s progress with his physical skills and to see how much he enjoys his time with Ms. Sami.

Click to see a quick video as D tackles the obstacle course: D tackles the OBSTACLE COURSE

1.26.2021 Using Both Hands and Developing Hand Strength With Clothespins

Our O.T.s have a host of tools up their sleeves to help their students, and here we find Ms. Morgan Occupational Therapist, using ordinary clothespins to give “J” a bit of practice and fun while growing his hand strength and ability to use two hands together.

There are plenty of present and future benefits to this activity, such as being able to use a writing utensil, or a pair of scissors correctly. The excerpt below tells more:

As found at: https://www.toolstogrowot.com/therapy-resources/fine-motor-skills/clothespins

Clothespins The use of clothespins provide opportunities for the development of foundational skills required for scissor use, pencil grasp, and other tool use. Through the use of clothespin task resources and handouts, the following will be encouraged: Resistance and strengthening Development of the arches of the hand Skilled control of the radial fingers (thumb, index, and middle fingers) Stabilization of the ulnar fingers (ring and little fingers)

— https://www.toolstogrowot.com/therapy-resources/fine-motor-skills/clothespins

Thanks to Morgan and J for their great work!

1.14.2021 Strengthening Hands and Straight Lines

There are plenty of ways that Occupational Therapy helps our youngsters and one way is by building up to and including writing skills. Some children need to strengthen certain muscles in their hands in order to correctly hold a pencil, crayon, or marker and so in order to work on writing skills, there are some exercises that can be done to develop that needed strength.

Today we get to peek in on Ms. Alyssa C.O.T.A. while she works with “E” on just this set of skills. Alyssa has E sort bears by color. Color sorting is also a skill that is a goal for so many children, and the bears are fun and interesting to work with. This makes the work of using the tongs much more tolerable, as the tongs can be tricky to use. That however is the point in order to build up hand strength.

Once the bears are sorted, Alyssa transitions E to pre-writing skills, such as drawing a straight line, and drawing a circle. She first demonstrates, and E happily responds in kind. Check out the pictures and videos and leave a comment to cheer on E and other children here at Crossroads


DRAW a LINE video




1.11.2021 Using Stairs

Using stairs is a life skill that is important for most people who are physically unlimited, especially youngsters with many environments ahead of them in their lives. Many children will encounter stairs at home, in the mall, in their schools, and in work someday.

Lots of children here at Crossroads are working on using the stairs, and we happen to have a great set of stairs to learn on. Stair climbing using alternating feet to climb is one of the skills in Ms. Sami’s Physical Therapy wheelhouse, and it’s one that we all delight in here when we see children making gains.

12.29.2020 Handwriting

According to an article found on the website of the American Occupational Therapy Association, (AOTA), “Handwriting is a complex process of managing written language by coordinating the eyes, arms, hands, pencil grip, letter formation, and body posture. The development of a child’s handwriting can provide clues to developmental problems that could hinder a child’s learning because teachers depend on written work to measure how well a child is learning.” 

Read the whole article: https://www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Patients-Clients/ChildrenAndYouth/Schools/Handwriting.aspx

“T” is a student in Room 11, one of our school-aged classrooms. Working with Ms. Alissa, Occupational Therapist, he practices tracing and then writing the word on his own. When asked, T says that he likes handwriting, and gives a broad smile when complimented on his careful work.

The article cited above notes that “Occupational therapists can evaluate the underlying components that support a student’s handwriting, such as muscle strength, endurance, coordination, and motor control, and parents can encourage activities at home to support good handwriting skills.”  As such, Ms. Alissa gives total focus and concentration to T’s work and supports his every move.

Stories like this one show the thorough and dedicated work being carried out every minute of the day at Crossroads. We’re so proud of the progress of our students and the commitment of our team members.

11.23.2020 Swinging for Strength. 

Swinging involves skills such as hand grip, posture, balance, pumping, and more. This little guy needs some help from Sami to get situated, and then voila, he’s sitting on the swing independently! Just another peek at the great progress being made in the OT/PT department at Crossroads. Great work, Sami and D!

11.16.2020 Balance is the Key to Life.

There are many things that we take for granted that are rooted in good balance. Balance is fundamental to standing, walking, and running, to carrying things and reaching.

Here, Ms. Sami, Physical Therapist works with “A” by having him sit on a therapy ball. She is there to spot him; his feet are on the floor as his sense of balance is still new. She guides him up to a stand, and back down. These exercises will help his stability and balance increase over time.

Nice job, Sami and A!

10/27/2020 Shouting out to our wonderful #OccupationalTherapy Department a Happy #WorldOccupationalTherapyDay  today, with a giant sized thanks for all you do for our students!


10.22.2020 A very warm welcome to our new Physical Therapist, Sami! Stay tuned to read more about what’s going on in the PT department as Sami completes training and orientation to Crossroads.

10.15.2020 A day in the life of our Physical and Occupational Therapy Department includes a LOT of active learning. Today we were able to join Mr. Joe in a session with a student who was enjoying his time with Joe very much.

There are many verbs that can describe the kinds of skills children learn in their PT sessions, as you can see below. There are also many adjectives to describe Mr. Joe, such as fun, warm, loving and professional. It is with a mix of sadness and pride that we share that Joe is moving on to a new experience in his career. Joe, thank you for your wonderful work here and the many ways you’ve impacted on the children, parents and your team members. We will miss you and we wish you the absolute best in the new trails you’re blazing.

Happy PT Month to you and your colleagues in the field.

CLICK for a 10 second video

4.3.2020 Happy OT MONTH!

We are proud of our Occupational Therapists, and happy to celebrate OT month at Crossroads, albeit remotely. They have come up with a whole week of OT activities to do at home, starting Monday, April 6th. There is a printable version at the bottom of the page, so scroll down and enjoy!


O.T. Week of April 6th– April 10th 

By Morgan Sylvester, O.T.

Motor Monday

It’s the beginning of the week, time to start off OT week with Motor Monday! Today is all about fine motor activities.

What are fine motor skills? Fine motor skills refer to your child’s ability grasp and manipulate objects with age appropriate grasping pattern. Without exposure to manipulating and grasping materials your child does not work on improving the strength of the small muscles in their hand (often we refer to as distal hand strength).

This website is a great resource on ideas to add some fine motor activities into your day today!


Tactile Tuesday

Happy Tactile Tuesday! Today we are talking about the tactile system. The tactile system is only one component of our sensory system and it plays a very important role; as it is our sense of touch and how our sensory system processes this sense to our brain.

When we touch something it sends this information to our brain to identify the texture, temperature, pain, etc. Today we are only focusing on the textures!

This video highlights great ideas of making your own sensory bins at home with household materials and other ways to explore tactile play.


Wardrobe Wednesday

It’s the half way point of the week and we are talking about your child’s wardrobe, in particular fasteners!

In OT, fasteners are often targeted as they increase your child’s independence with dressing. If they are able to complete buttons, zippers, snaps and velcro; they will be more independent and feel confident!

If your child is not ready for fasteners, there are great ways they can work on pre-fasteners skills. These resources provide information on how to assist your child with fasteners and if they aren’t ready activities you can work as prerequisite skills.



Two-Hands Thursday

Thursday, it’s almost Friday! Today, we are talking about the importance of using two hands together. Often your OT will call this “bilateral hand skills.” Our bilateral hand skills are very important to develop as we can use two hands together in the midline (in front of us). You can incorporate this often if your child is helping you fold laundry, gathering materials to play, playing with toys, stabilize paper as they write on paper, or cutting with scissors. Your child might do this already and you may not have noticed!

Why is it so important? When your child is able to use their hands together at the same time it indicates that both sides of the brain are sharing information to each other effectively.

Here are a few websites that offer printables to work on precutting skills and cutting simple shapes.



Finger-Isolation Friday

Happy Friday! Today we are targeting isolating our finger movements. By improving fine motor dexterity through isolating finger movements your child will develop more refined fine motor manipulation skills.

This website is a wonderful resource to explain the importance of dexterity in your child’s development.


That’s the end of our OT week!

Click this link for a printable document:  OT WEEK 

4.1.2020 OT MONTH

Ms. Morgan has planned some awesome activities to celebrate OT MONTH. Watch for her daily updates starting next Monday! Click below to see her opening message:

Start of OT week (1)


Ms. Morgan, Occupational Therapist has shared a new resource for learning at home! See what she has to say about this set of activities, below.

“I found this resource online that I wanted to share. It’s great for all parents to view and gain a better understanding on a child developing a hand preference and outlines great activities to do at home. I thought this resource would be beneficial for our younger students whether or not they receive services or not. It’s a great resource for positioning of materials and outline of activities to do at home.




Now in our 2nd week of school closure due to COID-19, our dedicated therapists and teachers continue to create materials and locate resources that families can do at home. This one is from Ms. Alissa, one of our fantastic Occupational Therapists. All you need is the front of a cereal box and scissors.

She writes, “Here’s a simple activity parents can do at home. It can address scissor skills as well as visual perceptual skills. You can cut the box into a number of pieces, whatever is appropriate for the student at this time and after put it back together like a puzzle!



Occupational Therapy Home Activities

Our second list of resources is shared by our Occupational Therapy department, who has created a list each for school-aged students and preschool students.  

Thanks to Morgan and Alissa for their efforts with putting this together: Print it out, below. 

Occupational Therapy School Age Home Activities    Preschool Based Home Activities


Physical Therapy Home Activities

This week, while children are at home, may be difficult for our families, as well as students. We are going to be providing some links from therapists and teachers to try to help keep routines and skills in practice. These resources will also be listed on our PARENT RESOURCES page, all in one place. 

Thanks to Mr. Joe, our PhysicalTherapist, for putting this list together. Print it out, below. 

“The purpose is to provide parents with some ideas that target gross motor activities that we work on in PT, but could benefit all our kids.” Mr. Joe, P.T.

Gross Motor Activities during break

3.3.2020 Growing Strong!

Mr. Joe helps students with a great number of gross motor skills in his Physical Therapy sessions. This little guy has been working hard with Mr. Joe and is building strength every day. Sitting on a large therapy ball that Joe moves left and right helps “T” develop balance and core strength, as well as desensitization of the feeling of having feet off the floor. Crawling with tunnels and mats fosters overall strength and hand-eye coordination. “T” has also gotten great at running, and the large space fosters motivation to follow Joe to the far side of the room.

It’s awesome to see students making great progress. Hard work pays off! Especially when you have a wonderful therapist such as Mr. Joe!

1.31.2020 Beading for Fine Motor Skills Development.

It’s no surprise that Occupational Therapy sessions tackle a multitude of skills. What is amazing is how many creative activities the therapists in this department implement to help their students with the very skills needed. This activity, for instance. It’s super simple and absolutely fun, yet it’s exercising the little muscles and movements of the hand and fingers. Picking up the tiny pony beads, placing them on the pipe cleaner, just so, holding the pipe cleaner tightly with the other hand, and not letting the beads already in place fall off… This youngster’s hands are building strength that will help with even harder skills that will follow, such as buttoning and unbuttoning clothing, holding utensils and writing instruments, grasping food items for self-feeding.

We’re so proud of Q’s hard work and of the Occupational Therapists (OTs) for their special work with the children!

11.18.19 STAIRS Super Star!

Check out this sweet young lady mastering the stairs!


Watch an adorable video!

10.29.19 GREAT CATCH!

If you ever get a chance to watch Mr. Joe when he’s working with students, one thing you’ll notice right away is that he really gets into it! His teaching of catch feels like a real game of catch, and the children he works with have a blast. This little guy caught the ball and threw it back, something that’s not so easy to learn. Practice makes perfect and perfect takes practice, as they say, and this student is really catching on to the skill of CATCH!


10.18.19 Connecting is cool!

The game Connect 4 helps with so many cool OT skills! That’s why Ms. Alissa uses the game with her students. “J” is very engaged and interested in the task of picking up the circular pieces and putting them into the slot. There are visual-motor skills, fine motor skills, and planning skills too.


10.8.19 Working on hand strength is oh so much fun!

This is a super fun activity for students who need to develop some fine motor strength!

Ms. Morgan has “hidden” some fun toys inside of a clump of theraputty. “T” is having a great time working the putty to discover the toys, and his fingers are getting some nice exercise.

Tip: If you don’t have theraputty, you can also use playdoh! Visit our Pinterest page if you want to try making your own!

8.1.19 Scribble Monsters

Scribbling is a crucial part of the process of learning handwriting skills, and for our kids here at Crossroads, scribbling is significant to the process of learning about written communication to others too.

When our OT’s introduce the process of handwriting, the very first step is making a mark on the paper. The mark will become a line, a line a scribble, a scribble a shape, a shape a letter and number.

Sometimes students don’t have an intrinsic interest in making that first mark, and sometimes students are past that step. Sometimes students are making lines and need some help with formation, and others are working on turning letters into names and words… everyone is an individual here. Whatever the case, making scribbles is a huge part of the process, and our OT’s turn up the fun factor to motivate their students to want to work on handwriting skills.

Here are some of their recently made “Scribble Monsters,” to share with you!



Buttoning skills! Check out the wonderful focus and attention on this challenging task by “L,” one of our school aged students. She is working so hard! Ms. Gretchen, her Occupational Therapist, is a great teacher, having her keep trying and giving her guidance when the button just doesn’t seem to want to go through. The happy look of pride on her face when she succeeds is priceless.

5.31.2019 Update Occupational Therapy:

Check out these cutting edge SCISSOR SKILLS!

While Ms. Caitlin works with one youngster, Ms. Gretchen works with another. Amongst many other skills, both children are learning to use scissors correctly.

The look of sheer concentration on this little guy’s face says it all!

So does the look of pride at achieving what he set out to do!

Cutting task complete, this game helps to strengthen pincer grasp while simultaneously encouraging fun interaction between therapist and student, as well as  developing strategic thinking.

Meanwhile our friends at the other table move on to the beloved etch-a-sketch, which improves writing and drawing skills and is fun to erase when done.

Whatever they’re doing in O.T., the work is fun and rewarding to the students.

4.5.2019  Update  Physical Therapy:

Mr. Joe works on a huge variety of skills. Here one of his students is doing a great job holding on during his bouncing and balancing activities!

That’s a challenging but important skill for safety! Great job, Joe and M!

 Update: 3.29.2019

Occupational Therapy:

Ms. Gretchen and one of her students have been doing a great deal of food preparation and cooking this year. Here they are making dirt cups to welcome in the spring! The special snack will be shared with classmates later. YUM!

3.2019: Occupational Therapy

Ms. Caitlin and C are sharing a sense of humor this morning as they get ready to get down to their work! Thanks for the SMILES!


Great job walking! Mr. Joe is an amazing coach! This is hard work and this young guy is up to the task. Very motivated and happy to do the work with Mr. Joe.


Our Physical Therapist, Mr. Joe, and our Occupational Therapists, Ms. Caitlin and Ms. Gretchen are super busy and exquisitely fun.

Take a quick glimpse into the therapy room which, at Crossroads, is shared by the Occupational Therapy (O.T.) and Physical Therapy (P.T.) departments. This will give you some ideas of the types of skills that our students are making progress with here recently!

Occupational Therapy:

One area that is often targeted for O.T. is handwriting. Handwriting isn’t a simple skill to master by any means and for some students. Prerequisite skills need to be achieved first. These can include skills such as achieving a pincer grasp, holding a utensil, and making a simple mark on a piece of paper.

When a child is able to make controlled marks, such as side to side or top to bottom, then they can move on to other types of marks. Straight and curved lines, circle-like shapes, squares and triangles, and eventually letters and numbers, are later put together to form words and phrases and sentences.

You’ll find the O.T.’s using everything from cheerios to silly balls to give their students practice picking up small items with fingers and utensils. So many fine motor skills are put to work in an O.T. session!

Physical Therapy:

On the other side of the room, Physical Therapy works to improve gross motor skills. One of the important areas often addressed in Physical Therapy (P.T.) here is mastering the stairs. Taking one stair at a time, putting one foot up, pulling one’s own weight up with the second step, going up, going down, use of a handrail… there are so many pieces of the full picture involved in using stairs. It’s a pretty important activity to be able to do safely and Mr. Joe makes sure that the students work hard on it!

 In these pictures, you can also see positive reinforcement. The therapists make the activities themselves very fun and reinforcing, and following successful work, they give their student an opportunity for a fun activity which is picked ahead of time by the child. You’ll probably see that the reinforcer activities are activities that are also benefiting the child, such as the balance ball, the bouncing ball, and enthusiastic praise from the therapist.


Just some of the ways that O.T. and P.T. are putting the FUN in the important functional skills that they teach each day at Crossroads Center for Children!

Aug 2, 2017 Making Great Marks in OT

Lines are what make up letters and numbers when we write.

And a line starts with a mark.

Many of the students at Crossroads are learning to draw lines, shapes, letters and numbers. Here two students work on such skills.

Our Occupational Therapists are experts at helping them.

Sometimes, initially, hand-over-hand assistance is needed, and that prompting can be faded out over time until the child is able demonstrate the skill more independently.

It’s always wonderful to watch the development of a child’s skills. Our students work harder than many people, and it’s so exciting to see them make gains.

Want to help us help the kids? Please go to https://www.givegab.com/nonprofits/crossroads-center-for-children and donate today.

2016: Jump! Hop! Skip! Cut! Color! Tie! Do you remember when you took your first step? Probably not! How about when you first pincer-grasped a cheerio to pop into your mouth? No? That’s because most of us were too young to hold those memories. Most people pick up these types of developmental skills early in life, too early for us to recall.

But here at Crossroads, many of our kids have delays in developmental skills. They need a little extra help to acquire them. A little encouragement, some extra practice, and voila, before you know it, those skills are solid!

That’s what you’ll notice if you spend any time at all in our Occupational Therapy / Physical Therapy room. The crew works with kids throughout the building who have needs for their services in accordance with each students’ IEP (individualized education plan). So while “L” is mastering drawing a shape, “E” is tackling jumping forward. While “T” is getting becoming a whiz with zipping and unzipping a front-zipping garment, “M” is donning and doffing his own sneakers and socks with speed and precision. So much going on! So many gains!

In one corner, the Occupational Therapist, (O.T.) is working on self-care skills with a little guy who works hard and earns the swing, his favorite positive reinforcer. He’s not alone! The swing is one of the awesome things about working hard in OT/PT! Just about everyone works hard when they know there’s this cherished prize after! In another area of the room, another student works hard at copying a square that the Occupational Therapist, (O.T.) models.

Another student later in the day works a batch of putty to discover several small gems inside, something the O.T. created to help him increase his fine motor strength. He pulls out a small pink bead with delight, holding it up to share his prize.

And there’s also the student who is making excellent gains with drawing requested shapes. First comes a vertical line, then horizontal. Next there’s a cross and then a circle. A square and then a triangle. The student has come far! This O.T. says the steps of each shape she requests as she is setting up the model, and the child repeats them, guiding herself with increased finesse.

All the time, on the other side of the room, Joe, the Physical Therapist (P.T.) here at Crossroads, works on gross motor skills. The important skills to him are those that build balance, strength and endurance and his favorite skill to teach is using stairs, since it is so functional and life long. He relishes seeing the kids pick up the skill sometimes slowly at first but then boundless in their growth.

Building core strength, balance and stability is important to all of a kid’s gross body movements, and Joe’s ways of getting his students to meet goals are ingenious and fun.

With Joe, students also practice skills such as catching and throwing, walking and running, jumping and hopping. Being rolled on a balance ball and sitting up on it is like a fun ride for “E” as she builds core strength and balance. Catching a ball is a fun game for “T” as she increases hand-eye coordination and aim. Jumping on a trampoline is a blast and a half for “L” as he builds lower body strength and moving balance. Climbing up a matte is a cool thing to do to get to a toy on the windowsill, as “E” and “J” build uphill inclined mobile strength and endurance.

Gains and growth are observed as a child performs a skill – growth which is documented in data collection, and graphed to be analyzed for changes to the way the goal is run. That is the crux of all programming at Crossroads – an applied behavior analysis school – and is evident as these therapists take data in the students’ binders and clipboards where steps and sets sheets are prepared ahead of time and followed not only in the therapy room but across the rest of the students’ programs as well. For example, a child might work on doffing at bathroom time with his classroom team, when it is a natural time to utilize that skill – our systems allow the classroom to prompt or assist the child in the same way that his OT has instructed; consistency leads to better success, and chances for generalization to new environments.

Our students love going to OT and PT and make excellent gains because of our phenomenal therapists. Thank you for all of your work and devotion to the children of Crossroads Center for Children.

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